Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Object Now or Forever Rest in Peace!" Chapter 4 of The Menace of the Swords through the Gate of the Icy Spire

Joroon's Dragoons crash a wedding and ruin a cake. Plus, one of their number will die!

Joroon's Dragoons:
  • Joroon Hicks, Hillfolk* Storyteller
  • Gravy, Human Priest of Thumina
  • Aline, a Thaumaturge of half-Human/half-Sylvan** parentage
  • Lodar, Prairiefolk*** Barbarian
  • Inza, aka "The Shadow", Human Shadow-Warrior
Not Present:
  • Dornan Anduin, Human Paladin of Vengeance, cousin of Arne

* Hillfolk = Halflings from the Slopes of the Great Wall Mountains
** Sylvan = A fancy name for Forest Elves
*** Prairiefolk = Halflings from the northern plains

An Icy PlungeAfter defeating the water elementals, the party continued their advance into the frigid lair the Ice King. As they traveled down a curved hallway, the ice floor beneath Lodar's feet proved to be too thin to support his weight. He fell through and plunged into a pool of slushy ice water. He was soon extricated from the trap and died off using a prestidigitation cantrip. Aline ferried the rest of the party down the hall one at a time on her flying broom.

Reception HallThey entered a large L-shaped room filled with tables made of ice and dozens of light folding chairs, also made of ice. On each table were settings made of ice. Pitchers were made of ice and filled with solid water. Arrangements of flowers made of hoar-frost were artfully placed on every table. A large table at the head of the room was set for the wedding party. Another table off to one side held a huge multi-tier ice cream cake. Atop the cake were two small figures: one of an old wizard with long blue robes, long white beard, and golden crown; the other a young woman with long white braid and a blue gauzy dress.

Pengu, distant cousins of the Tengu
A dozen human slaves were setting the tables. Each slave wore an iron collar. Six ogre-like beasts, giant evil-looking penguins with massive claws instead of wings, oversaw the slaves. As soon as the dragoons entered the room, the penguin-ogres shouted out an alarm and rushed to intercept them.

Lodar ran to block the opposite exit to prevent penguin-ogres from escaping. The ensuing battle spread out across the entire room with ice tables being flipped and smashed, many on purpose. Inza went to smash the table with the ice cream cake when Lodar and Gravy shouted "No-no-no! Don't do that!" They wanted to save the cake for later.

After the battle, they instructed the human slaves to wait here. They would be freed soon. Aline also learned that the humans were protected from the cold by the magical iron slave collars they wore. Unfortunately, only the Ice King himself could enchant the collars.

We Object!A long tall corridor led to a large vaulted chamber. The chamber was at least a hundred feet tall. The natural twilight of the sky filtered down through icy ceiling. Additional light was generated by hovering globes of magical rime-fire. The chamber was filled with several dozen humans frozen in ice, all observing a marriage ceremony happening on a raised stage at the other end of the room.

The groom was an middle-aged wizard in long blue robes and long white beard and hair. A white psuedo-dragon was perched on his shoulder. A golden three-pointed crown sat on his bald head. His skin was bluish-white. His eyes glowed white with malice.

The bride was Lady Elsa of Choke, a beautiful young woman with a long gauzy dress and white braided hair. She and the Ice King lightly held hands.

The best man was a large black-and-white penguin-ogre. The maid of honor was a large ice elemental. The officiant was a gargantuan blue-skinned giant with a long white beard wearing the long robes of a priest.

The priest had just uttered the words, "..and if anyone should have any reason to object to this union, let them speak now or forever hold their peace..."

Joroon vehemently objects! 
At that moment, the doors at the rear of the hall burst open and Joroon's Dragoons charged in. Joroon himself shouted out his objection and demanded this ceremony be ended. He accused the Ice King of kidnapping Lady Elsa and declared that he and his companions had come to rescue the princess and return her and her people to the town of Choke.

A large white-furred figure stepped out from behind one of the many frozen wedding guests. He was bulky with long arms. His face was like that of a gorilla. Two curving rams horns grew from his pointed head. He wore chain mail armor and carried a large ram's horn around his neck.

He spotted Lodar carrying the magic scimitar Magmatar, and hatred burned in his eyes. "Where did you get that sword? That sword was a gift to my son, Gorak, on his name day! It belongs to him!"

Lodar strode forth defiantly, "I took it from the lifeless corpse of your worthless son. If you want it, you'll have to take it from me."
Treffek, Father of Gorak 
At that, the father of Gorak roared in anger, "I, Treffek, father of Gorak, will avenge my son!". He pulled forth the horn and blew as hard as he could.

Unfortunately, the horn exploded in Treffek's face.

...

Lodar ran forward and cut the wounded beast-man down.

Meanwhile, Inza disappeared into the shadows and reappeared in a dark corner elsewhere in the room.

Suddenly, each of the arrangements of hoary flowers in ice pots, placed artfully around the chamber, came to life in the form of short monstrous winged humanoids made of ice. They swarmed the intruders and harried them with claws and ice breath. Two of them enveloped the ceremony in fog, obscuring any attempt to attack the bride and groom from range.

Aline took flight and loitered near the ceiling. She dispelled one of the magical fogs, revealing Lady Elsa, but one remained, obscuring the location of the Ice King.

Lady Elsa of Choke 

Lodar charged the platform. Lady Elsa cast a spell on Lodar. Lodar became enveloped in a swirling maelstrom of icy daggers. The Ice King likewise stepped out of the fog and trapped Lodar, freezing him in place. The penguin-ogre groomsman rand down the stairs and began attacking Lodar with the help of several of the small winged ice creatures.

The rest of the group was bogged down fighting the ice creatures among the frozen wedding guests. Suddenly, suprisingly, Treffek was alive. He had pulled himself to his feet. his face was mangled and one eye was destroyed. He fixed his good eye on the approaching Inza, freezing him in an icy stare.
Inza was frozen in place. Gravy ran up to assist the shadow-walker, freeing him from the effects of the stare with a holy prayer to Thumina. Inza attacked Treffek, killing him with several powerful strikes.

Aline, she casts spells 
Meanwhile, Aline distracted Elsa with a firebolt spell, allowing Lodar to break free of the daggers and the hold. Lodar ran quickly up the stairs and, without thinking, cut Lady Elsa down with one blow in a frenzied rage. He was quickly surrounded and set upon by the small ice creatures and the penguin-ogre.

Soon after Treffek fell, the Ice King emerged from the fog and cast a magical spell that enveloped Inza, Gravy, and Joroon in a deadly cone of cold and ice. Inza remained standing. Gravy fell unconscious, frozen in place. Joroon, however, was instantly dead, his corpse frozen in gruesome agony.

Aline prepared a fireball spell to throw at the Ice King. The wizard dismissed her spell with a simple gesture.

While the Ice King was distracted by Aline's spell, Inza charged. He hit the wizard with several strikes to key pressure points, immobilizing the evil conjurer. He followed with a deadly coup-de-grace that struck the Ice King dead.

The Chilly Demise of the King of Ice at the hands of Inza 
Aline flew down and administered a healing potion to Gravy. Gravy immediately got up and ran to Elsa, healing her fatal wound and returning her to consciousness.

The penguin-ogre and remaining ice creatures were eventually defeated.

Aftermath
The Ice Elemental had apparently fallen apart when Lady Elsa was cut down. The frost giant priest had remained neutral during the fight, asked to be excused, and was allowed to leave without incident.

Lodar used Magmatar to decapitate the Ice King and the head was placed in a bag for travel. The crown was carefully handled and placed in another bag.

Aline used magical fire cantrips to melt the ice encasing the wedding guests, a process that took the better part of a day. One of the wedding guests was a frightened little girl. Gravy was able to return the girl's doll to her, which eased her fears and made her smile.

Aline also attempted to dispel any charms placed upon Lady Elsa but was unsuccessful. Whatever magic was affecting her mind was beyond her ability to remove.

Exploring the Ice King's private chambers revealed a magical font which could be used to create water elementals.


Gravy really wants that ice cream wedding cake 

Gravy and Lodar instructed the rescued villagers to carefully carry the cake out of the reception hall, up the corridor, and outside. A few moments later, they heard a crash followed by a loud splash and screams for help. They had fallen into the icy water trap. They were protected from damage by the collars, but the ice was ruined. The exasperated Gravy and Lodar helped the villagers out and escorted them out of the wizard's lair.

Once back at the village of the Grunthers, Urglorz upheld his bargain and gave the team his magical ring as payment for killing the Ice King.

The company, carrying the captive Lady Elsa, and along with the freed villagers, returned to the dimensional gate. They passed through and were able to escort everyone back to Choke. Only the matter of Lady Elsa's possession and the open portal to the world of Ice remained. They took Lady Elsa back to the portal atop the Ice King's tower.

Lady Elsa kept trying to gain the crown. She said that she could close the gate, but only if she had the crown. The company refused. Instead, Gravy prayed to Thumina to remove any curse placed upon her. This returned Lady Elsa to normal. Lady Elsa didn't know for sure how she opened the gate, but she offered to try. After a few moments of willing the gate the close, she was successful. The portal shrunk and was reduced to a single large diamond that fell to the floor. Aline took the diamond for safe keeping.

With the portal closed, the blizzard came to an immediate end. The sky lightened and the clouds began to lift. Sun poured down on the mountainside and across the snow-covered valley. Soon the weather had returned to the normal winter temperature of 40 degrees.

Coming Soon
With the death of Joroon, the party will likely change names and roster. I believe the next step is to return the head of the Ice King to the wizard guild in Yon to collect the bounty. Then, perhaps, Lodar may want to track down the wizard that killed his tribe.

...or, something else. I'm leaving it to the players. Whatever happens next, there's going to be a change of venue. I'm taking the campaign out of the valley. I'd like to explore some of the other locations in Agartha, and we've been stuck in this po-dunk valley for the last year. It's time for something different. Since all of the current characters are essentially new, it's the perfect opportunity to go somewhere else.

But first, I'm going to run the game I wrote, Exiled in Eris, for a few weeks, no more than a month. Just something different to cleanse my palate for a while.